U.S. Department of Energy

    DOE Offers $52.5 Million for Concentrating Solar Power Research

    July 15, 2009

    Photo of hundreds of flat mirrors mounted on central pillars and tilted at various angles on a flat stretch of desert land. In the background, a latticework of metal forms a tower that holds a black cylindrical solar energy receiver. The other power plant components are clustered near the tower, but are barely visible.

    Solar Two, a 1990s-era demonstration facility in Southern California, allowed DOE to investigate the use of thermal energy storage for concentrating solar power plants. Enlarge this image.
    Credit: Warren Gretz, NREL

    DOE offered $52.5 million on July 15 for research, development, and demonstration of concentrating solar power (CSP) systems that provide low-cost electrical power both day and night. CSP technologies concentrate the sun's energy and capture that energy as heat, which then drives an engine or turbine to produce electrical power. Such plants can include low-cost energy storage, which allows them to provide electricity even when the sun is not shining. However, CSP technologies currently used in utility-scale power plants typically do not have the capability or the capacity for energy storage, and therefore, operate only during daytime hours.

    The new funding will seek to improve energy storage technology and develop novel system designs that will extend operations to a level of production that would make it possible for a CSP plant to displace a traditional coal power plant. The competitive funding opportunity for up to 13 awards focuses on developing a CSP system capable of operating at least 18 hours per day. It involves two areas: Research and development of concepts and components for such a CSP system; and development of a complete CSP system that can operate into the night, including an evaluation of the system and testing of the components for a future prototype. Applications are due by October 15. See the DOE press release and view the Funding Opportunity Announcement by searching the public opportunities on FedConnect for reference number DE-FOA-0000104.